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COLLEGE PARK, MD-What will be the largest research center in the Washington, DC area is moving closer to realization now that the Maryland Board of Public Works has approved three developers–Manekin LLC, Corporate Office Properties Trust and NAI Michael Cos.–to spearhead the development of the University of Maryland Enterprise Campus. Dubbed M Square, the facility will ultimately consist of over two million sf of public and private research, laboratory and incubator space. The park is expected to cost $200 million to complete. The three companies will also market and manage the project.

M Square will occupy a 130-acre parcel adjacent to the University of Maryland College Park campus, and within close proximity to major labs and federal agencies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration’s 350,000-sf research building. Two anchor tenants have already committed to the research center.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Center for Weather and Climate Prediction has plans to build a 285,000-sf structure at the park, and the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language has already set up shop. Additionally, some research space is presently available for lease, and the school is currently building an additional 75,000 sf of space that is scheduled for availability late next year.

The research center is anticipated to be of great benefit not only to the University of Maryland and associated organizations and companies, but also to the State of Maryland. Just last year, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. committed $5 million from the state’s Sunny Day Fund to M Square’s development.

“The University of Maryland Enterprise Campus at the University of Maryland, College Park will be an important tool in our efforts to ensure that Maryland’s emerging technology companies have the initial support they need to grow and develop from the research and development stages to manufacturing,” Ehrlich says in a statement upon announcing the state’s contribution in 2003. “This facility will provide a positive, nurturing environment for these companies and will serve as a major source of job growth and commercial expansion for the College Park community and the State of Maryland.” The entire project is expected to take about 10 years to fully complete.

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